Filmmaking partners Guillaume Giovanetti and Cagla Zencirci immersed themselves in the magical world of Japanese folklore to create this intricate and delightfully amusing modern-day parable.
Guillaume Giovanetti, Cagla Zencirci
In Japanese folklore, the kitsune, or fox, and the tanuki, or raccoon, are the two animals with the ability to shape-shift into human beings, usually for the purposes of deception and mischief. In their remarkable new film, directing duo Guillaume Giovanetti and Çagla Zencirci tell a modern parable of a kitsune and tanuki who attempt to con a rich man out of his gold — only to lose themselves in the process.
The story begins with Mr. Yoshino, an elderly gentleman running a rapidly failing company. Fearing that he may let down his hundreds of employees, as well as his loving wife, Wajima, he turns to an old friend, a Chinese restaurant owner living in Japan, for guidance and distraction. Yoshino is a lost soul, teetering on the edge of his fragile existence and hoping to put the pieces of his life back together. But as mythological elements begin to seep into Ningen, we realize that characters are not always what they seem — the kitsune and the tanuki could be lurking behind any corner.
As they did in Pakistan for their first
narrative feature, Noor, Zencirci and
Giovanetti have embedded themselves
deep inside the storytelling traditions of
Kyoto and emerged with a remarkable
mixture of fantasy and allegory. Brimming
with generous attention to detail, the film is
packed with comedic surprises. Interlacing
elements from varied myths and legends,
Ningen feels like a great work of Japanese
literature, one that combines absurdist
comedy and storybook imagery in the
service of a cunning and very clever little